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Bucharest the location for Atlético Madrid vs. Chelsea match as Spain extend COVID-19 travel ban

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Football in a pandemic

Romania v Serbia - UEFA Nations League C Photo by Alex Morton - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

As expected, the first leg of Chelsea’s Champions League Round of 16 matchup against Atlético Madrid will not be able to take place in Madrid on February 23 after the Spanish government extended their restrictions on travelers arriving from the UK on Tuesday. The new COVID-19 travel ban is set to be in effect until at least March 2.

Atlético, as entreated by UEFA, have been exploring alternate locations for this match in the event of the extension, and all signs appear to be pointing at the National Stadium in Bucharest, Romania as the new location for the match, keeping the same February 23 date.

UPDATE: Confirmed!

Other locations that have been rumored are either not fit for purpose or are unavailable, with the National Stadium in Warsaw currently serving as a COVID-19 testing and vaccination super-site, and Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris, a much closer option to Madrid, apparently not free on that day (though neither Genoa nor Sampdoria have a match scheduled on February 23).

Elsewhere, in similar situations, RB Leipzig have confirmed that their match against Liverpool will take place in Budapest, Hungary, while Real Sociedad’s match against Manchester United has been moved to Turin, Italy. Both of those games are one week earlier than Chelsea’s game.